Simba (1955 film)

Simba is a 1955 British drama film directed by Brian Desmond Hurst, and starring Dirk Bogarde, Donald Sinden, Virginia McKenna, and Basil Sydney.[1] The screenplay concerns a British family living in East Africa, who become embroiled in the Mau Mau Uprising.

Original film poster
Directed byBrian Desmond Hurst
Produced byPeter De Sarigny
Written byJohn Baines
Robin Estridge
Anthony Perry (story)
StarringDirk Bogarde
Virginia McKenna
Donald Sinden
Music byFrancis Chagrin
CinematographyGeoffrey Unsworth
Edited byMichael Gordon
Distributed byGeneral Film Distributors
Release date
25 January 1955
CountryUnited Kingdom


Alan Howard (Dirk Bogarde) visits Kenya to see his brother, whom he discovers has been murdered by Mau Mau.



The box-office success of The Planter's Wife (1952) saw Rank become interested in making films about other contemporary Imperial stories and head of production Earl St. John put out a call for story submissions to do with the Mau Mau Uprising. Anthony Perry obliged with a treatment and he was sent to Kenya, where his advisers included Charles Njonjo. The treatment had to be approved by the War Office, the Colonial Office, and the white settler organisation, the Voice of Kenya. The script was written by another writer, John Baines.[2][3]

The film was shot at Pinewood Studios, with second unit photography in Kenya. The producers had originally hoped to cast Jack Hawkins in the lead and used a double in Kenya to match him in long shot. When Hawkins was unavailable, Bogarde was cast instead and much of the Kenyan footage covering Hawkins could not be used.[4] However, they had also used a tall, blond Rhodesian policeman as the long shot stand-in for the part of Inspector Drummond, but had difficulty finding an available blond actor in England to play the part and so match up the shots. A chance meeting in the bar at Pinewood between the director Brian Desmond Hurst and Donald Sinden, who had had to dye his hair blond for the comedy film Mad About Men, led to Sinden being cast as Drummond.[5]

The film saw Virginia McKenna signed to Rank for a long term contract. Brian Desmond Hurst said "She has a terrific future, properly handled. She has all the qualities of a young Bergman and a young Katharine Hepburn."[6]


Theirs is the Glory: Arnhem, Hurst and Conflict on Film takes Hurst's Battle of Arnhem epic as its centrepiece and then chronicles Hurst's life and experiences during the First World War and profiles each of his other nine films on conflict, including Simba.[7]


  1. "Simba (1955), BFI Film Forever.
  2. John M. Miller, Simba, at Turner Classic Movies.
  3. Sue Harper and Vincent Porter, British Cinema of the 1950s: The Decline of Deference, Oxford University Press, 2003, p. 44.
  4. John Coldstream, Dirk Bogarde: The Authorised Biography, Phoenix, 2004, p. 271.
  5. Donald Sinden, A Touch of the Memoirs, 1982.
  6. "Jack Buchanan may begin a new career". The Mail (Adelaide, SA : 1912 – 1954). National Library of Australia. 2 October 1954. p. 68. Retrieved 31 October 2015.
  7. ISBN 978-1-911096-63-4. Publisher Helion and Company and co-authored by David Truesdale and Allan Esler Smith and a foreword by Sir Roger Moore. Available here:
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